Ottawa Press Conference Pushes Home Reality for Indigenous People

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Spokespersons in Ottawa speaking out on the real issues facing Indigenous people in Canada
Spokespersons in Ottawa speaking out on the real issues facing Indigenous people in Canada

Traditional Ceremonies on Parliament Hill

OTTAWA – In Ottawa, early Thursday morning a group if Indigenous people sought to bring a teepee onto the grounds of Parliament Hill. They were met by RCMP and security on the hill who sought to prevent the group, which was almost eighty people strong from doing that.

The group was seeking to peacefully conduct traditional Indigenous ceremonies on Parliament Hill which they stated in unceeded land in the Algonquin territory.

Several of the people were arrested and issued trespass notices barring them from Parliament Hill for six months. However, all the people were later released.

The RCMP finally stepped back to allow the group to set up their teepee and the group of youths supported by their Elders then started their ceremony.

Later in the day on Thursday, the group moved the teepee more toward the centre of the grounds of Parliament Hill.

Spokespersons for the group say that they are on site to raise awareness of the “524 years of genocide in Canada since the arrival of the settlers”.

The group is gaining support from across Canada.

Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee says that he is supporting the youth in Ottawa who are conducting ceremony and are there for spiritual reasons.

“This is youth-driven,” says Madahbee.  “These are grassroots people who are guided by traditional grandmothers.  We are there to support the youth.”

Madahbee wants to stress that this is not a protest.  “They are praying about the murdered missing woman and girls and for the protection of water,” says Madahbee.  “They are creating awareness that Canada150 is not our celebration.  We have been here for thousands of years.  We want a dialogue with Canada.  The federal government needs to do better in the future on how we are treated.”

Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day says, “I had the honour and privilege of being with my niece Candace Day Neveau and her partner Johnny Wabigwan, who is fasting for the people for 4days to help ensure that a spiritual message is brought to Canada’s 150 celebration on Parliament Hill.

“This is the first time I have brought my pipe out on the hill where the government house of Canada sits. I am grateful that these young people offered this opportunity to do so. The tobacco was passed and we had a good ceremony; many good messages came through their words and prayers for goodness”.

Regional Chief Isadore Day assisted in peacefully negotiating with RCMP a new tipi site for the Bawating Water Protectors to the left of the Canada Day stage on Parliament Hill.

Bawating Water Protector Candace Day Neveau said “Shout out to all our people, allies and Grand Chief Madahbee for holding up the teepee poles for 4.5 hours last night! It was nice to have the Indigenous leadership support and my uncle Isadore Day for coming to tell me he loves me, and to check on us and help us put up the teepee!”

“We are here in a peaceful ceremony, this is not a protest. We are exerting out inherent right and pro-liberating Indigenous peoples to take a stand and challenge the current Canadian mindset and educate how Indigenous people are feeling about Canada Day,” continued Day Neveau. “They have all their tents set up behind us and it is apparently bureaucratic nonsense of why we can’t put up the teepee on Parliament Hill. They put us in the corner in the entrance and have made a barricade for the teepee not to actually go on Parliament Hill. We are going to be stepping up and pushing them to let us on the Hill.”

Across Canada many Indigenous people are refusing to celebrate the Canada 150 events.

Day Neveau says “It is celebrating our pain”.

Spokespersons in Ottawa speaking out on the real issues facing Indigenous people in Canada
Spokespersons in Ottawa speaking out on the real issues facing Indigenous people in Canada

At the press conference in Ottawa, Jocelyn Wabano-Iahtail stated “That journalists have a responsibility to report our truth”.

Wabano-Iahtail said that promises have been given, including by the Prime Minister that things would change.

The spokepersons for the group expressed that they are not protesting, but raising awareness for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Men and Boys, for the many communities without safe drinking water. John Fox one of the spokespersons stated that the current national inquiry is way off target and asked how it can go forward.

There has been movement on several fronts across Canada as the country prepares to celebrate the Canada 150. In Manitoba a group has blocked the Trans-Canada Highway.