New Year’s Greetings and Prediction From Bimaadzwin
Serpent River First Nation – In just six short months since the inception of Bimaadzwin, much work has been undertaken, accomplished, and new partnerships and priorities have been established. On behalf of myself and the Bimaadzwin team, we wish everyone a safe and prosperous New Year.
Prosperity happens to be one of the key priorities at Bimaadzwin. Our Peoples cannot be happy and healthy without being prosperous. In fact, Dr. Evan Adams of the BC First Nations Health Authority always underlines this truth in his speeches – the more prosperous you are, the healthier you will be.
Having travelled to First Nation communities across Canada, I know all too well that poor health, poverty and despair is far too prevalent in 2019. Perhaps by 2029, we can finally eradicate those 3rd world conditions.
The only way that First Nations – and all Indigenous Peoples – can begin to overcome the grinding impacts of poverty is to seize every opportunity to assert our Nationhood and control and develop our own economies. At Bimaadzwin, this will always remain our ultimate goal; and the primary reason we prioritize our work for First Nations.
As it may seem bold, I am predicting that 2019 will be a breakthrough year for First Nation jurisdiction and economic development. In the very near future, we will become equal partners in Canada – not the current fourth or fifth level of government. The yardsticks of equalization will become more prevalent for communities bold enough to strategically assert their rights –such as the recent court ruling in the 1850 Robinson Huron Treaty annuities case that validated resource revenue sharing for First Nations.
While Our Peoples still need to work with the federal, provincial and territorial governments, we must also work with the private sector in terms of securing investments and economic partnerships. We must also continue to pursue greater control of our own governance from health and education to economic development and environmental protection.
We are the land. Our health and prosperity are directly tied to the health of our lands and waters. We must have the ultimate authority of deciding how our lands will be developed, if at all. We must also have access to government funding in order to combat climate change. Our children’s future depends upon our present actions to protect our environment; which is why this year you will see our team ratchet up our efforts to support First Nations and other jurisdictions with climate change priorities and action planning.
One of the highlights of Bimaadzwin’s work to date was leading a community vision and values exercise in a northern Ontario First Nation. Besides leadership, the whole community, from youth to Elders, were fully involved over the course of several days. It is so re-affirming to hear from community members about how they want to move forward.
There are so many challenges to overcome, yet our Peoples remain optimistic that we will break the chains of oppression, from poverty to racism, that still have such a firm grip in the 21st century.
For the sake of our children, I hope that 2019 will be a year which sees fewer incidents of chronic health issues, lower incarceration rates, suicides, racism impacts, because our communities will be actively pursuing social and political justice, and asserting control over their own jurisdiction and economies. From cannabis to combatting climate change to community wellness planning, there are an abundance of opportunities for every single Indigenous community. It’s now up to us to seize the day.
Respectfully yours, in the spirit of Nationhood,
Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini