Under the Northern Sky – All the Best for a Happy New Year!

Under the Northern Sky

ATTAWAPISKAT – We are getting ready to wish each other a happy new year 2022. We have been through and are still going through an historic pandemic with Covid19. As a matter of fact right now, the Omicron variant is spreading like wildfire. So far, most of us have done well with following the rules from public health in getting vaccinated, wearing masks, socially distancing and washing hands often.

Nobody knows exactly how bad things can get with this new highly contagious Omicron variant. It could result in having to shut down things considerably again and place more restrictions on gatherings, retails stores and schools.

Hopefully, this pandemic will wane to a great degree and we might simply  have to get annual vaccinations to deal with it. In remembering the 1918 Spanish flu, it took several years for it to go away as it kept coming back again in waves on a regular basis and managed to kill some 50 million people world wide.

One thing for sure, is that we all know now what it feels like to have a crisis at our door, in our town, in our city, in our province and in our country. In the past, most of the terrible things we saw in the news were happening in some other country. We were one of the many countries that went to war for all kinds of reasons and ended up killing thousands of thousands of people and terrorizing them in other parts of the world. This time something called a virus decided to give us a little reminder that we are not immune to disaster and terror ourselves. There is no real safe place in this world right now from this pandemic.

For a lot of reasons, most of our world has ended up with capitalist, money based societies like we in the west have or authoritarian dictatorships like Russia or China. Happily here in Canada, we have what we refer to as a social democracy. We don’t just hail to the very wealthy and the money people but we also try to make life better for average person. We are lucky that we live in a country like this and although it is not perfect, it is worth protecting our democracy and a more fair way of life here.

Maybe this pandemic is a teaching for us. Perhaps that teaching has to do with we as people here on Mother Earth needing to figure out how to develop systems of government and economies that are more fair, just and kind. That means that each one of us has to raise our voice to make sure that we don’t end up living in a world where only the very rich and powerful make the choices that all of us have to live by. We need a democracy in place that provides public education at all levels, public health care in all its forms and care for the elderly, marginalized and disadvantaged. We could move forward on the basis of the teaching of this pandemic to provide society here in Canada, North America and globally that is more of a change for the better.

Let’s face it, our economy is suffering right now and may even come close to collapsing because of the power of a virus. That virus is making people sick and the result is an endangered economic system and general devastation of our society. That points out that the only thing that matters in this world in terms of economy, societal structure and government is the health and welfare of its human population. So the economy and money based system means nothing and can not survive without the active healthy participation of people.

This should remind us of the power we have as individual human beings. As an Indigenous man, I can say that my culture does not put money first and never has. We are seen as being poor money organizers and managers but in fact Indigenous cultures are based more on human values and a respect for Mother Earth. Maybe its time for all of us to question this enslavement to the almighty dollar and the very wealthy billionaires on this planet that control most of our world’s wealth. We absolutely need a more democratic, fair and just society in order for our species to survive. That is a very powerful lesson that this pandemic is teaching us.

So heading into 2022, it is up to each one of us to make sure that our voice is heard in directing our human civilization to the choice for democracy rather than fascism or authoritarianism. Happy New Year 2022!

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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.