Isaktewizaagegan Independent First Nation, Box 1, Kijick, Ontario, P0X 1E0, 807-733-2560. firstname.lastname@example.org
The People of Shoal Lake want you to understand what they are speaking about. This week the people walked from their Reserve in Ontario to the Legislative Building in Manitoba.
Here is their statement:
"For the Future: We share this plane and this particular place. Together, we have a reponsibility to enusre that as far as seven generations into the future there is a place of beauty, wonder and sustenance for those who will be here then. We ask that you join us in working together for a common future that benefits everyone. Miigwitch for taking the time to learn about us."
"Our Sacred Responsibility: At the time of Creation it was intended that we should reside in this place - Iskatewizaagegan. Our Teachings, Ceremonies and Experiences are deeply rooted in this place. There is no where that one can travel that you can't find evidence of our existence.
|Reaching Mb Legislature|
Our life here is guided by the Three Ancient LAWS - 'Manitoo Inakonigewin (Laws of the Creator0; Aki nankonigewin (Laws of the Land)
and Anishinaabe nakonigewin (Laws of the Anishinabe).
We have attempted since the time of the first contact to teach these laws to all of the newcomers who have arrived here since first contact and so once again we are extending this Teaching so that everyone is aware of the positions we take and the reasons for these positions.
We remain hopeful that we can come together as neighbours, as governments, and as people united by the beauty and wonder of this territory.
All We have asked for is respect for our Way of Life, the Treaty and our Rightful Place for our full participation in the growth and development of this territory."
"Our Shared History: Our Ancestors signed Treaty #3 in 1873 with your Crown and almost immediately a huge disagreement began over the terms and conditions of that Treaty. The written version that we received from Ottawa does not reflect our understanding of the terms and conditions. Our understanding is reflected in what is known as the "Paypom Version" based on the notes take by our interpreters.
To our ancestors, the term Treaty means - "Tibaaimatiwn" and means the following: Tibaa: means a measure of payment in exchange for goods for something of equal value, currency and trade goods, etc. (compensation). Ima: means a place or the present right now, today. Tiwin: means the way in which business is conducted. Contractual arrangement with specific terms and conditions and to undertake a certain activity with time frames.
Thus the term "treaty" means annuities in exchange for granting the privilege of a right of passage to travel through the Anishinaabe Territory. There are two of these "travel corridors", one is the old Dawson Trail and the other is what has become Highway 17 - or the Trans-Canada.
Along with the permission to pass through our territory our ancestors set other conditions, especially on the acts of prospecting and exploration. That condition is simple, non-Anishinaabe were given permission to do these activities, and, if they found anything of value then they were to report to the Chiefs and Talks would begin about how to share the discoveries.
There is much more but these are two of the most important conditions concerning the issues facing us today.
We are not opposed to development and growth, but first and foremost it must honour and address the laws, traditions, and customs that we live by and govern human activity in this beautiful land."
The issues: Highway 17 Twinning. We have three concerns that we have talbed with the Province of Ontario regarding the twinning of Highway 17. That dips threaten a significant cultural area for our people and continues to infringe and erode our Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.
We have asked that the dip be moved more northerly and were told by the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) that it could not be done because the development of Royal Lake Resort had spent a lot of money improving their SEPTIC fields and there was no way not to impact those fields.
Quite Bluntly - this means MTO values a septic field more than our Anishinaabe cutural areas. This is Completely unacceptable to us!
Shoal Lake Flooding and Water Taking: Shoal Lake is constantly flooded by Lake fo the Woods water to provide water to Winnipeg. Winnipeg has been taking this water since 1913 without compensating our Nation.
In the almost 100 years of this theft we have lost wild rice fields, lost acres of shoreline and lost the economic foundations of our Way of Life.
|Opening up the Water|
We have tabled a request for compensation in the amount of $124 million dollars a year. Dollars which are needed to strengthen our school, health facilities, housing and provide for economic opportunities for our People."
|Still on Trans Canada in Winnipeg|
|Proud Isaktewizaagengan Anishinaabe|
|ON the Steps of the Legislative|
|Winnipeg & Manitoba is not being Fair|
|Youth in Action|
|Youth Councillor, and Water Keeper|
|Chief Ovide Mercerdi |
Chief Eli Mandamin Made a statement to the People gathered at the Legislative building.
" I want to begin by acknowledging the children, women, men and Elders our Nation for their strength, perseverance, and belief in our Rights as a people and Nation. This journey has been a heartfelt expression of the commitment and sacrifice our people are prepared to make to insure that justice and fairness are finally achieved...
is the fundamental element of Life in the Universe. When we start our journey from the Spirit World to this Physical World, we must make that journey through the water our women carry in their bodies. During all the time we are in the Physical World we must continue to have that water to keep us alive.
In our culture we hold ceremonies thanking the Spirits of the Water for their continues support of our lives. We have asked the Water Spirit of Shoal Lake for her guidance on how to address this issue of her being taken to provide water to Winnipeg.
Since 1913, she was forcibly removed from her home and made to take a journey to a foreign place to be used by strangers. She wasn't asked if she wanted to come to this place because she his not seen as a living entity who needs to be respected and consulted.
She has reminded us that since the beginning of time her and all of the Life Sustaining Spirits have been here to make sure that us poor pitiful humans have a good life. She also stated that since the arrival of the newcomers they have brought only one thing that is now needed to support human life and that is - shooniya, money, and she said that she could assist us in building our economic capacity to meet our needs.
But her assistance is contingent on her rules. We as humans can never take for granted the gift she gives us. So we are instructed to carry out a yearly cycle of ceremonies to keep ourselves reminded of this gift.
She also said that no one person or family can reap any gains from this effort. That whatever is done, must be done in a way that benefits all of the people now and into the future..."
|Councilor Fawn Wapioke|
|Chief Terrance Nelson|
Councilor Fawn Wapioke also made a statement: "...I want to extend my deep gratitude to the children, women, men and Elders or our nation...
...Women and Water have a fundamental relationship as Life Givers in the Universe. From the time of Creation of First Woman and First Man it has been the Creator's plan that all Female Life will be the ones that insure that the next Generations of their kind successfully enter this Physical World.
Our fundamental relationship as Life Givers is honoured through our Ceremonies, Songs, and Traditions. The Teachings we received as we pass through our various stages of life deepen our understanding our role and responsibility and how Water is an ever present supporter and sustainer of our existence.
The removal of the water from Shoal Lake is an assault on all women. The female spirit of the lake was never consulted, never asked for her permission to be used in such a manner. Her assault is the same assault we have endured when our children were torn from us and taken to Residential Schools; when the Children's Aid Societies stormed into our homes and ripped our children away and when those children were adopted out all over the world with many lost to us forever...
Whenever the word consultation is the principle of free, prior and informed consent. Consent and Choice are Sacred principles in our culture. From the moment a child enters this world they have the power of choice and consent. When our ancestors agreed to negotiate treaties they saw this as a process by which they will make choices and grant consents.
The Spirit of the Lake and our people never the opportunity to consider the choices of how our waters would be used, so we never had the opportunity to gran our combined consent for the uses Winnipeg had in mind...
Our Requests are simple - extend to use the respect and dignity that was not extended to the Spirit of the Lake and our People almost 100 years ago...
|Fighter Jet flies by a number of times. |
|Chief Eli Manitoba|
|Councilor Fawn Wapioke|
|Shoal Lake 39|
|AFN Vice-Chief Bill Travers, Elder Peter Kinew, Elder Frank Greene|
|Donald Courchene, Terrance Nelson, Bill Traverse|
|Arriving at the Legislature|
|We made the Walk from Ontario to Manitoba|
There were no Provincial Government officials on hand to meet or listen to the People of Shoal Lake. No Winnipeg officials to listen to the People. No other Leaders of the Treaty One territory where Winnipeg sits on.
The People of Shoal Lake stood almost alone on the steps of the government building. There were some supporters: Chief Terrance Nelson of Roseau River First Nation, Elder Peter Kinew, Chief Ovide Mercerdi of Grand Rapids, Vice Chief Bill Traverse of the Assembly of First Nations.
The Mayor of Winnipeg has said that the Water issue is a provincial issue. The province is not really interested in meeting with Shoal Lake.
Chief Eli Mandamin made a profound statement regarding the absence of Native Leaders, "there are no honourariums here, that is the nature of things these days".
I was saddened and embarrassed that our Leaders chose not to support our relatives from Ontario.
For those of you that do not understand or relate to the Water Teachings that the People of Shoal Lake talked about, maybe you can relate to the documentary: Water.
For full movie watch over here: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/water-great-mystery/
The Provincial government, the City of Winnipeg, and other Manitoba Native Leaders can try and ignore the People of Shoal Lake. They can hope that Shoal Lake will go away.
Chief Eli Mandamin said it best:
"For 20,000 years we have been an independent and self-sufficient people capable of meeting our needs in harmony with this beautiful territory given to us by the Creator. It has only been in the last 100 years that we have lost our self-sufficiency and independence. That loss has been because of the deliberate laws, policies and regulations passed by the federal and provincial governments in an attempt to eliminate our Rights.
Those Efforts have not been successful. We are Still Here."