Under the Northern Sky – We Need A Change

Under the Northern Sky

by Xavier Kataquapit

We are still dealing with this Covid-19 pandemic after more than a year and it is not looking like there is any light at the end of the tunnel just yet.

Thankfully there are vaccines being rolled out but it is not happening fast enough to keep this virus in check. Governments continue to open everything up way too much and rapidly even though the virologists and epidemiologists have been warning us that is far too dangerous as this virus is mutating into new variants which are much more contagious. As if that was not enough to deal with on a daily basis there are populists movements all over the world pushing us to the extreme right. These kind of fascist realities should remind us all of how history unfolded in the 1930s leading up to the Nazi regime in Germany and fascist governments in Italy, Spain and other European countries. Those experiments in combating socialism by the most wealthy families and corporations in the world ended up killing millions of people. In an eerie repeat of history, that rise of fascism in the early part of the last century occurred around the time of disruptions made worse by a great pandemic.

Let’s face it, the average person is at their wits end sitting at home in some form of confusing lock down that comes and goes while we do our best to protect ourselves and loved ones by wearing masks, staying two metres from others and washing hands often. It has been more than a year of this and regretfully many of us are feeling isolated, disappointed, sad and angry because we don’t have the freedom to move about and live like it was before the pandemic.

If I was not a fan of the study of history I would think this period in time was extraordinarily dark and foreboding. However, I am reminded that history provides me with a wake up call in that we as human beings have been acting out in all kinds of tragic and ridiculous manners since we first walked out of caves and began beating each other over the head with large clubs. Throughout time we have been ruled by the few wealthy and powerful in all kinds of civilizations and societies. We have fought many battles over money, power and ideologies. Much of the time though the battles were about grabbing rich resources, plundering others and expanding power and influence. Interwoven into all of this crazy and frantic constant conflict we have had to deal with disease, plagues and famine.

Somehow here and there in time we have managed to produce beautiful developments in art, writing, ideas and architecture. We connected here and there with the realization that peace and love were in fact honourable quests but most of that development gave way to the greed of the wealthy and powerful few who dominated the many. How many intellectuals, progressive free thinkers of the day, scientists, philosophers and true democratic individuals have been tortured, banished, discredited and slain to keep the few very wealthy in control of the many who serve them. It is a sad recurring theme that keeps repeating with no end in sight.

So, we can all take some comfort in looking back at history and realizing that this all happened before and that we survived. As an Indigenous person who knows very well the affects of colonialism, the missionary zeal of true believers, the stark reality of racism, injustice and inequality this is all too familiar. After over 400 years of colonialism in North America, the recipe for disaster is very familiar to Indigenous people. If a fortunate few horde their wealth and power at the expense of everyone else, then war, plague and famine will continue to be part of our history now and into the future.

Perhaps, instead of repeating history again and again, we can learn from it and create more of a balance of power and a fair share of wealth for everyone. With the development of this world wide pandemic and the rise of ugly fascist right wing movements perhaps we will have an epiphany and it might occur to us that there still could be a chance that peace, love and a more sharing world might just be possible. There are elections on the rise and that gives us all a tiny little bit of say in how things will play out for our future.

Let’s pay attention this time and become truly educated and informed so we can give the honour of leadership to those who actually care about us and will put people before profit. We need this change.

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Under The Northern Sky is the title of a popular Aboriginal news column written by First Nation writer, Xavier Kataquapit, who is originally from Attawapiskat Ontario on the James Bay coast. He has been writing the column since 1997 and it is is published regularly in newspapers across Canada. In addition to working as a First Nation columnist, his writing has been featured on various Canadian radio broadcast programs. Xavier writes about his experiences as a First Nation Cree person. He has provided much insight into the James Bay Cree in regards to his people’s culture and traditions. As a Cree writer, his stories tell of the people on the land in the area of Attawapiskat First Nation were he was born and raised.