Attawapiskat Walkers head to Ottawa
ATTAWAPISKAT – The “Omushkegowuk” of Western James and Hudson Bay including their inland member First Nations are calling on all Indigenous People and Nations in Canada to take serious, strong and direct action now to get our Sacred Treaties honoured and implemented. Allies of the Indigenous Nations are strongly encouraged to continue supporting the Indigenous people by launching new support campaigns across Canada and worldwide.
In a statement from the Mushkegowok Council, “Under the spiritual guidance of our Elders and Ceremonies, community members of the Attawapiskat First Nation in Northern Ontario are taking the lead on this Spiritual Journey (walk) through our spiritual and ancestral Mushkegowuk homelands and parts of Ontario to once again deliver a Strong Spiritual message to Canada’s Prime Minister on Parliament Hill in Ottawa”.
Spear-headed by Danny Metatawabin, an Omushkegowuk member, this Spiritual Journey started from the remote community of Attawapiskat, Ontario on January 4, 2014.
The Spiritual Journey continues to gain strength by other people joining the walk and the many strong encouraging messages coming from the Elders, Youth and community members. After 9 days of walking in frigid (minus 40 – 50 C) temperatures and covering approximately 265 kilometers, the Walkers arrived in good spirits in Moose Factory on January 13, 2014.
“We, the grassroots People, are walking to Ottawa to deliver a message to both levels of Government and to our respective Chiefs that the time to honour our Treaties is now! The time to address and reconcile Aboriginal issues is now! The time to work together with the utmost respect on a Nation to Nation basis is now! We are and will continue to be here and we want our rightful place back within this country called Canada. We are seeking justice, equality and fairness as First Peoples of this country. We will continue our journey to Ottawa with guidance and much appreciated support from the People, Leadership of the Omushkegowuk, other First Nations and all our Allies within Canada and the International Nations. We cannot remain silent and/or be silenced no more, this is our time, change is upon us and we are the change, says the organizer of the Spiritual Walk, Danny Metatawabin.
“In January 2013, the Prime Minister of Canada made a commitment to create a high level working process for Treaty implementation, and 12 months later, we remain in the same or perhaps in a worse state when that commitment was made and accepted” says Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence. “Our people continue to live in third world conditions, the government of Canada continues to impose unilateral decisions and legislation that violates our Treaties, supreme court decisions in favour of Treaty Rights continue to be ignored, the United Nations continue to issue reports and declarations on the rights and treatment of the Indigenous peoples in Canada, the Prime Minister of Canada making major economic / business agreements that involve our homelands with other countries, and we have had enough…our people and our Chiefs are being forced to take real action now,” Chief Spence says.
Fort Albany First Nation’s Chief Rex Knapaysweet, who walked for five (5) days says; “in the real Treaty agreement, our grandparents secured permanent control of Our Homelands; the evidence and testimonies prove this and we have reached a critical point that puts Canada and Ontario on notice to honour the Spirit and Intent of the James Bay Treaty – Treaty No. 9.”
“On behalf of our citizens, the leadership of the Moose Cree First Nation welcomed the Spiritual Walkers with open arms and mixed emotions with very strong feelings; the purpose of this journey is to bring national and international attention to the need for both levels of government to honour the Treaties and to address First Nations issues now” Chief Norm Hardisty of the Moose Cree First Nation said.
The Grand Chief of the Mushkegowuk Council, Dr. Stan Louttit is in full support of the efforts of the Spiritual Walkers who have embarked on a 1,400 km Spiritual Journey to create awareness and awakening on the Treaty and the implementation of it. “We are calling on our Chiefs and Leadership alike to take a forceful message to Canada, Ontario, and the general public and to the international stage on the state of our Nations. We have historic and legally binding agreements with the federal and provincial governments. But yet we struggle on a daily basis with lack of basic housing and infrastructure capacity, education and economic development. Why is this so? The government has to get serious about their responsibilities in these Treaties. Ignoring the Treaties, tells us that the government does not take Treaty Relationships and Agreements seriously and they wish that someday, these issues would fade away. But I am telling you right now, that the Treaty movement will continue and we will make the Treaty issue an agenda item in all meetings with the government and we will continue our actions into the future. Does the government wish to continue fighting with us on these various issues or would they rather sit down with us to discuss these important matters in an amicable and respectful way. I would hope the latter.” Says Grand Chief Dr. Stan Louttit.